(SKY NEWS) – The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has imposed a four-year ban on Russia from all global sport, including the 2020 Olympics and the 2022 World Cup finals.
WADA’s executive committee took the decision after concluding Moscow had tampered with laboratory data.
The agency found Russia planted fake evidence and deleted files linked to positive doping tests that could have helped identify drug cheats.
Russia has 21 days to appeal the decision through the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Sky’s sports correspondent Martha Kelner has said the country is expected to appeal.
Individual Russian athletes untainted by the scandal will still be able to compete in competitions independently under a neutral flag.
It is unclear whether those who play team sports such as football will be able to play under a neutral flag.
Jonathan Taylor QC, chair of the compliance review committee (CRC), said: “There will be no Russian flag at the events that are covered (by the ban).
“There will not be a Russian flag and the athletes will not be participating as representatives of Russia.
“The details from sport to sport will have to differ because some are team sports, some are individual sports, so there is going to have to be a case by case basis.”
Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said after the judgement: “Everything possible was done to resolve this situation. Everything possible.”
WADA said its decision was unanimous and its president Sir Craig Reedie accused Russia of choosing “deception and denial” rather than getting its house in order.
Sir Craig said: “The ExCo’s (executive committee) strong decision today shows WADA’s determination to act resolutely in the face of the Russian doping crisis, thanks to the agency’s robust investigatory capability, the vision of the CRC, and WADA’s recently acquired ability to recommend meaningful sanctions via the compliance standard which entered into effect in April 2018.
“Combined, these strengths have enabled the ExCo to make the right decisions at the right time.
“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (RUSADA) reinstatement conditions, approved by the ExCo in September 2018, demanded a robust response.
“That is exactly what has been delivered today. Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.”
Russia has been hit with the ban after agreeing to allow WADA investigators into its laboratory in Moscow.
The investigators found that data there had been manipulated.
Russia will still be able to compete at the Euro 2020 football tournament next summer, which it has qualified for and is a tournament host with games due to be played at St Petersburg.
European football’s governing body does not fall under the definition of a “major events organisation” under the international compliance code.
Russia has been banned from competing as a nation in athletics since 2015 when it was first declared non-compliant.
UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) welcomed the ban on Russia in a statement by saying it was the “only possible outcome”.
UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said: “We welcome today’s decision to declare RUSADA non-compliant, and the decisive action by WADA’s executive committee to impose four-year sanctions on Russian athletes and support personnel.
“This was the only possible outcome that the WADA ExCo could take to reassure athletes and the public and continue the task of seeking justice for those cheated by Russian athletes.
“We know however that this is not necessarily the end of the matter. If RUSADA choose to appeal this decision to CAS, this must be carried out with minimal delay, especially in light of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
“We welcome the clear and detailed communication from WADA today which is vital in helping to maintain confidence in the global anti-doping system.”